So here’s a question. How many stars do you give a book that may be written passably but that you hate? Yes, hate is a strong word. But that’s how I felt about Mrs. Fletcher. I found the characters unlikeable from the start – found them self-absorbed, spoiled, self-pitying – and the multiple narrators of the audiobook didn’t help, particularly the voice of the 18-year-old. Nor did it help that the author is a media darling and male. Sorry, but I have to say that. It’s the only thing that explains critics tripping over themselves to give him a good review. Those reviews built my expectation far higher than the author was able to go.
Mrs. Fletcher is clever. The slang is hip. It gets in all the hot-button topics: online dating, online porn, gender dysphoria, bullying. It presents a side of modern life that may be prevalent today. Or not.
The book is billed as a glimpse into the world of a divorcée whose only son goes off to college, leaving her alone with her unfulfilled sexual dreams. Perhaps the message here is more about the internal life of a woman as she ages – or in this instance, of a woman who fights aging.
I fight aging. I work out, play tennis, dress as young as I dare without being inappropriate. I think about sex a lot, as those of you who read my books can guess. Still, Mrs. Fletcher left a really bad taste in my mouth – and it wasn’t only because of the portrayal of these particular characters. The author’s opinion of people over 60 is stereotyped and sad, which is odd, since he is 56 himself. But there were two hackneyed references to age, one to a couple that had been married fifty years, another to a woman in her early 70’s. I fall into both of those categories, and have a ton of friends who do, as well, but none of us are as old as the picture the author paints. Does Mr. Perrotta not realize that 70 is the new 55?
I listened through Mrs. Fletcher to the very end, hoping that as critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful an author would redeem himself at some point. He did not. The ending was very sweet, perhaps a little too much so, but he failed to justify these particular characters reaching this point.
Mrs. Fletcher is a glib, self-indulgent novel. I shudder to think how the movie will be. But then, I’ll never know. Oh, there will be one; Mr. Perrotta’s credentials assure that. But I won’t be watching it.